The Nigerian Union of Railway Workers (NURW) on Sunday faulted Saturday’s arrest of its members by the police in Maiduguri.
Police arrested some personnel of the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC) who happen to be members of the NURW at the Maiduguri Railway Terminus on Saturday on the allegation that they were stealing coaches.
The police declared that the arrested persons did not identify themselves as employees of the NRC at the point of arrest.
They had been arrested before Managing Director of the NRC, Mr Fidet Okhiria, stated that they were officials of the corporation moving the coaches to NRC’s Running Shed in Jos for overhauling.
Addressing a news conference in Jos, National President of the NURW, Mr Innocent Ajiji, faulted the arrest and also declared those in the net as bona fide personnel of the NRC.
“All efforts to release those arrested had proved abortive. The police alleged that the coaches were stolen, but that is not true.
“The person identified by the police as the prime suspect is Engr Aliyu Mainasara, our Regional District Manager in the Northeast.
“He is not a thief.
“We call on the police commissioner to immediately release our members or we will be compelled to down tools and stop trains all over Nigeria from moving if this not done,’’ he said.
Ajiji also explained that the coaches in question had not been put to use in the past 20 years, insisting that they were being transferred to Jos for proper utilisation.
“Since Boko Haram started, all our tracks were carted away by the insurgents; our bridges were all also destroyed.
“In fact, from Maiduguri to Bajoga, there is no single track on ground because they have been carted away by those criminals,’’ he said.
“I am in Jos to monitor on-going activities because Plateau government has intention of running a rail mass transit that will cover Jos, Kuru and Heipang areas.
“We do not have any coach in Jos and as a result, coaches are being conveyed from Maiduguri to be refurbished and used to run the mass transit here.
“The remaining coaches will be taken to another location because NRC’s management has the intention to run inter-state mass transit.
“The first coach has arrived in Jos by road and this is essentially because our tracks have been stolen and we cannot convey the coaches by rail,’’ he said.
Ajiji explained that the NRC officially wrote to the Commissioner of Police in Borno notifying him of the need to convey the coaches from Maiduguri to Jos.
The union leader stressed that the NRC has the right to move its facilities from one point to the other for usage. (NAN)